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Dense breast tissue: What it means to have dense breasts

Dense breast tissue: What it means to have dense breasts

Dense breast tissue is detected on a mammogram. Extra imaging exams are occasionally recommended for women with dense breasts.

By Mayo Clinic Employees

If a recent mammogram confirmed you have dense breast tissue, you might wonder what this means for your breast cancer danger. Medical doctors know dense breast tissue can make breast cancer screening far more challenging and it boosts the danger of breast cancer.

Critique your breast cancer danger variables with your health care provider and look at your possibilities for more breast cancer screening exams. With each other you can make your mind up whether or not more screening exams are appropriate for you.

What is dense breast tissue?

Dense breast tissue refers to the visual appeal of breast tissue on a mammogram. It can be a usual and typical getting.

Breast tissue is composed of milk glands, milk ducts and supportive tissue (dense breast tissue), and fatty tissue (nondense breast tissue). When considered on a mammogram, women with dense breasts have far more dense tissue than fatty tissue.

On a mammogram, nondense breast tissue seems dark and clear. Dense breast tissue seems as a sound white location on a mammogram, which can make it challenging to see by way of.

How do medical practitioners figure out if you have dense breast tissue?

The radiologist who analyzes your mammogram decides the ratio of nondense tissue to dense tissue and assigns a level of breast density.

Amounts of density are described employing a final results reporting method termed Breast Imaging Reporting and Facts Procedure (BI-RADS). The amounts of density are generally recorded in your mammogram report employing letters. The amounts of density are:

  • A: Practically totally fatty implies that the breasts are just about totally composed of extra fat. About one in 10 women has this end result.
  • B: Scattered areas of fibroglandular density implies there are some scattered areas of density, but the the greater part of the breast tissue is nondense. About 4 in 10 women have this end result.
  • C: Heterogeneously dense implies that there are some areas of nondense tissue, but that the the greater part of the breast tissue is dense. About 4 in 10 women have this end result.
  • D: Really dense implies that virtually all of the breast tissue is dense. About one in 10 women has this end result.

In standard, women with breasts that are categorised as heterogeneously dense or exceptionally dense are considered to have dense breasts. About 50 % of women going through mammograms have dense breasts.

What triggers dense breast tissue?

It can be not obvious why some women have a large amount of dense breast tissue and other individuals do not.

You might be far more very likely to have dense breasts if you:

  • Are young. Your breast tissue tends to turn out to be considerably less dense as you age, nevertheless some women might have dense breast tissue at any age.
  • Have a decreased system mass index. Ladies with considerably less system extra fat are far more very likely to have far more dense breast tissue in contrast with women who are obese.
  • Get hormone treatment for menopause. Ladies who choose combination hormone treatment to minimize signals and signs of menopause are far more very likely to have dense breasts.

Why does breast density make any difference?

Having dense breasts impacts you in two methods:

  • Boosts the possibility that breast cancer might go undetected by a mammogram, because dense breast tissue can mask a possible cancer
  • Boosts your danger of breast cancer, nevertheless medical practitioners usually are not certain why

What exams are recommended for breast cancer screening?

Most health care corporations propose women with an regular danger of breast cancer look at typical mammogram testing starting at age 40 and look at repeating the screening yearly.

Ladies with dense breasts, but no other danger variables for breast cancer, are considered to have a bigger danger of breast cancer than regular. They might benefit from annual breast cancer screening.

Dense breast tissue can make it far more challenging to interpret a mammogram, because cancer and dense breast tissue each look white on a mammogram. Quite dense breasts might increase the danger that cancer would not be detected on a mammogram.

Irrespective of problems about detecting cancer in dense breasts, mammograms are continue to efficient screening tools. The most typical form of mammogram — electronic mammogram — will save photographs of your breasts as electronic data files as a substitute of film and lets for far more comprehensive investigation. This is far more efficient at getting cancer in dense breast tissue than more mature film mammogram technological innovation.

Are other exams far more efficient?

There is some evidence that more exams might make it far more very likely that breast cancer is detected in dense breast tissue. But more exams have more threats, and no more testing technique is proved to reduce the danger of dying of breast cancer.

You and your health care provider might look at more or supplemental testing primarily based on your other danger variables and your individual preferences.

Supplemental exams for breast cancer screening might include things like:

  • three-D mammogram (breast tomosynthesis). Tomosynthesis makes use of X-rays to accumulate numerous photographs of the breast from various angles. The photographs are synthesized by a pc to form a three-D impression of the breast. Many mammogram facilities are transitioning to incorporate three-D mammograms as section of the typical mammogram technological innovation.
  • Breast MRI. MRI makes use of magnets to develop photographs of the breast. MRI isn’t going to use radiation. Breast MRI is recommended for women with a extremely superior danger of breast cancer, this sort of as those with genetic mutations that increase the danger of cancer.
  • Breast ultrasound. Ultrasound makes use of audio waves to evaluate tissue. A diagnostic ultrasound is typically applied to investigate areas of concern found on a mammogram.
  • Molecular breast imaging (MBI). MBI, also regarded as breast-unique gamma imaging, makes use of a specific camera (gamma camera) that data the activity of a radioactive tracer. The tracer is injected into a vein in your arm. Normal tissue and cancerous tissue respond in different ways to the tracer, which can be witnessed in the photographs developed by the gamma camera. MBI is carried out each and every other year in addition to an annual mammogram.

Each and every check has professionals and negatives. Though each and every check is proved to find far more breast cancers than a mammogram, none of these newer imaging exams is proved to reduce the danger of dying of breast cancer, as has been accomplished with the typical film mammogram.

Supplemental screening check Execs Downsides
three-D mammogram
  • Believed to detect about one more cancer for every one,000 women
  • Done at the same time as a typical mammogram
  • Lowers the want for getting termed back for more testing of areas of concern that usually are not cancer
  • Valuable in evaluating dense breast tissue
  • Exposes you to more radiation, nevertheless amounts are continue to extremely very low
  • Availability is becoming far more typical
Breast MRI
  • Believed to detect about fourteen more cancers for every one,000 women
  • No more radiation publicity
  • Broadly available
  • Most likely to find areas of concern that usually are not cancer, but that have to have more imaging or a biopsy
  • Calls for injection of contrast materials
  • Costly check that could not be included by coverage unless you have a extremely superior danger of cancer
Breast ultrasound
  • Believed to detect an more 2-4 cancers for every one,000 women
  • No more radiation publicity
  • Broadly available
  • Most likely to find areas of concern that usually are not cancer, but that have to have more imaging or a biopsy
  • Excellent of exam dependent on encounter of particular person executing the check
Molecular breast imaging
  • Believed to detect about 7 more cancers for every one,000 women
  • Significantly less very likely to find areas of concern that usually are not cancer
  • Requires injection of a radioactive tracer, which exposes you to a extremely very low level of radiation
  • Offered at number of health care facilities